Back to the Book Nutrition

I was honored when Beka asked me to come over and share a bit about myself here on her blog. Beka and I have never met in person – we connected over our mutual desire to experience God in our eating and health in an email conversation several months ago, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. We share a passion for Jesus and living life with Him to the full!

Today I’d love to share with you a little about my personal journey, which I don’t get to delve into much in my day to day food blogging over at Back To The Book Nutrition. Plus, read on to the end, and you’ll get 5 practical steps to true physical health!

Grab a mug and pull up a chair!

My Journey to True Health
Today I’m a registered dietitian with two degrees in nutrition, I have worked for one of the top cancer treatment facilities in the world, I operate a growing food blog, and I enjoy life with my husband and two beautiful, healthy kids.

Sounds good, right?

The behind the scenes view isn’t so neat and tidy – is it ever?

Rewind a few years and it gets messy.

As a teenager, I was self-conscious about my weight. I was never fat - just a little chubby.

So, at 15 years old, I put my foot down. I did some “research” in women’s magazines and diet books, and came up with an eating and exercise plan that was sure to help me shed a few pounds.

One year and 20 pounds later, I was lightheaded, unable to focus, and completely oblivious that my obsession with calories, workouts, and every curve on my body was beyond unhealthy.

By the time I went away to college, I was spiraling headlong into full blown disorder, desperately clinging to a pendulum that swung between restriction and excess. I began to feel helpless against a raging monster inside of me, and no physical achievement satisfied my insatiable desire to be thinner.

Ironically, I lacked a single criterion for the most commonly diagnosed eating disorders, so I told myself I was okay.

Until God made clear I was not okay.

More clearly than anything I’ve ever “heard from God before,” I heard Him say through the pages of scripture and through the voice of His Holy Spirit inside me,

“You – you, Dena – with all your love for me and love for church and love for the lost – you are an idol worshipper. You love yourself, your body, your daily workouts, and your skinny ideal more than you love me.”

I was undone. Not only was I grieved by the truth that God had made plain to me, but also by the helpless feeling of knowing I could not change on my own.

But God…

Don’t you love those two words?

In His kindness toward me, God picked me up and carried me step by step for those first few desperate months, and then in the years that followed. He rescued me, loved and forgave, revealed the truth of His word to me, empowered me to change, and restored His rightful place on the throne of my heart.

Lots of hard work, healing, failure, and redemption happened in the years between then and now, but the summary is, Jesus saves!

Jesus brings eternal salvation, no doubt. But, Jesus also extends the offer of literal, physical salvation from the deepest, darkest pits of life. Whether trapped in addiction, self-loathing, abuse, doubt, or dark despair, you are never too far from His reach!

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me;

he drew me out of deep waters.

17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

Psalm 18:16-19

Now my greatest desire is not to perfect my own body, but to share hope and help with others so that they too can experience true health that nourishes the body while honoring God, His truth, and His creation in the process!

I firmly believe that we are healthiest when we eat and live by God’s design. Here are my top 5 tips for how to do it.

1. Recognize that food, health, and your body are gifts from God.
I’ve experienced such freedom from remembering that my body, my health, and food are not my own. They are gifts God has entrusted to me. I so long to be a good and grateful steward, handling these gifts in ways that serve His purposes, not just my own.

2. Eat mostly foods that He made.
The healthiest foods are the ones God himself made and gave to us. Real, whole foods made from things that grow, walk, swim, and fly, and that were raised in ways that most closely reflect God’s original design. Examples include fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, grains, meats, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs. It’s really that simple. No counting. No weighing. No list of allowed and disallowed foods. Simply choosing real foods made by God.

3. Allow food to open the door to relationship.
We were made for relationship – both with God and with others. Have you ever noticed how often Jesus’ teaching and healing were accompanied by eating? Food is a conduit for relationship – in every culture around the world, sharing a meal with someone opens the door for deeper conversation. Celebrate and serve great food, but remember that the food itself is not the ultimate goal.

4. Sleep.
Our fast paced culture pushes us to stay up late, rise early, and max out every waking moment. This frantic drive for more takes its toll, first in unseen ways (e.g., neurological and hormonal), then in outward ways. This is because God designed our bodies to heal and rejuvenate themselves overnight while we sleep.

5. Exercise.
Studies show active people are happier, healthier and sleep better than inactive people. That’s because God designed our bodies to work. Since physical labor is less necessary than ever for survival, most of us have to plan to get regular exercise. It’s hard to do, but something that will reap both immediate and long term benefits in our health.

For more information about inviting God into your eating and health, and for practical tips for when, why, and what to eat, I’m currently offering my e-book for ONLY $7.99!
You can preview the book for FREE here and BLOG SUBSCRIBERS GET 50% off! {Click here to subscribe!}

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  1. I think #2 is huge. You don't have to diet and count calories and all that as long as you're eating good food in moderation! It's not supposed to be stressful. I'm thankful to not have had any eating disorders or anything like that so, of course it's different for someone who battles that, but I think I eat okay and indulge in some chocolate, make sure I exercise, and I feel good :) Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. I totally agree, Amanda! Thanks for reading, and for your encouraging comment. :)

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